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Encourage staff and managers to take their vacation time. Even a day or two of vacation can make a huge difference in employee motivation. Now is the best time to plan the summer schedule and ensure that your employees are taking those earned and deserved vacation days and Arizona .

USA Today published that some 51% of executives surveyed by Accountemps, Menlo Park, Calif., a specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals, maintain they are more productive after a vacation than before.

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Now there is more proof that vacations increase employee productivity and even improve overall health, as the Travel Industry Association released its conclusions from studies of data that looked at the health benefits of vacation travel.

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So, you live in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area and would like a brand new experience during your vacation this year. You have probably done and seen just about everything there is to offer within a few hundred miles of the metroplex. Last spring break you and the family rode the coasters at Six Flags, or built castles of sand on the Gulf Coast. Possibly, you traveled to the Texas Hill Country, witnessed some old German heritage, and felt the chill of the river at Schlitterbahn. However, this year, the options don't seem as plentiful. Could it be there is an area almost untouched by man, smothered in wilderness and beauty? An area where people of all ages can enjoy. One that can be reached via automobile in about three hours from Dallas. The answer is yes, but most North Texas residents don't even know it exists.

Welcome to Southeast Oklahoma and the Beavers Bend and Broken Bow Lake recreational areas. Now, some of you may be thinking Oklahoma is nothing but windy plains and tornado warnings. However, the far Eastern section of the state is covered with Smoky Mountain style wilderness. In particular, the far Southeastern town of Broken Bow and the area just to the north. This is where Beavers Bend State Park and Broken Bow Lake are located. The state park offers activities ranging from horseback riding to fly fishing. The lake is clear and cold, as the water runs out of the Kiamichi Mountains year round. Trees and jutting rocks surround the lake, as well as it's pristine shoreline. Even though it is a man made lake, you will see little evidence that man has even been there.

While visiting, you will have a multitude of lodging options. Most vacationers choose to stay in a private Beavers Bend cabin rental or camp out at Beavers Bend State Park. The private cabins range from $75 - $600 per night and can accommodate anywhere from one person to a dozen or so. If you are looking for a luxury vacation cabin or a Beavers Bend getaway, one of the local cabin management companies should be able to suit your needs. It is recommended to book your cabin several months out for major holidays and spring and summer vacations. If you decide to pitch a tent or bring an RV, make arrangements early, as spots are limited and fill up fast during Spring and Summer breaks.

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Idea #1: Family activities for water lovers.

Broken Bow Lake has over 14,000 acres of pristine deep water. The water is incredibly clear and cool because its 180 miles of shore is lined with the forest covered Kiamichi Mountains. Nature in its most unspoiled state is found along the Glover River, Oklahoma's only untamed waterway (which means there are no dams blocking its course). Because Glover is secluded, its calm waters are ideal for floating on a raft. Beavers Bend has paddle boats and bumper boats. Rent a canoe and take a long lazy cruise together. Take turns paddling, then stop and drift for awhile, taking in the scenery - that includes Eagles flying overhead. Canoes seat two adults and two small children. Older kids will love kayaking, rafting or zooming around the lake on jet skis.

Idea #2: Create your own family posse on horseback.

Southeastern Oklahoma is home to over 535,000 acres of land available for horseback riding. The Ouachita National Forest and the Three Rivers Wildlife Management areas are prime areas for exploration as a family. Horses can travel on the forest floor. The Beavers Bend Depot is perfect for beginners and children where a 2.5 mile ride allows riders to catch a glimpse of deer and various types of wildlife. For more experienced riders, the back roads of McCurtain County offer endless riding adventures.

Idea #3: Play a game of family golf in a pine-laden wilderness.

The course has a pro shop, resident pro, cart and club rentals. Fairways cascade through stands of pine, oak, and hickory and past deer, fox, and wild turkey. More than one hole offers a fine view of Broken Bow Lake and the occasional glimpse of bald eagles.

Idea #4: Take a stroll together in a nearby small town

Head to nearby Broken Bow, OK to walk around and do some window-shopping. Grab hamburgers at Stephen's Gap. Catch an old timey radio show live on Broadway Street. Watch chainsaw sculpting at Hochatown Junction Station. Culture and history are plentiful in Broken Bow with three museums each with its own unique subject to offer a rewarding learning experience. The Gardner Mansion and Museum has a collection of pre-historic and historic Indian and pioneer artifacts. Located outside the museum are the remains of a 2,000 year-old Cypress tree.

Spending quality time together as a family can solidify and strengthen family ties, particularly when activities involve water sports, the great outdoors and splendor of nature as that can be found in McCurtain County.


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